So, you’re looking at L3 advancement? You’ve read over the Candidacy Prerequisites – probably even knocked a few of them out already – and you think it’s time to officially take some steps in reaching the next level of the Judge program. While I’m not here today to peel back the curtain and tell you the secret to leveling up (because there is no secret, just hard work), I do want to give you some insight into one of the trickier pieces of your checklist.
The self-review that is written for the checklist is, for many, the first time they have written that style of review. If you have never written a self-review before, I encourage you to pause where you are right now and write one. It doesn’t have to follow any particular format, you don’t have to email anyone and let them know that you’re doing it. Just stop, take some time to really think about yourself as a Judge. Where are you in your career, where have you come from, where would you like to go? We all critique ourselves, we are all often aware of things we can do to improve or things we have done very well; it’s not until you sit down alone with your thoughts and write them down that those items begin to take shape and become tangible and actionable. It’s a prime example of why Level 3’s are required to write a yearly self-review (spoiler).
Back? Good! Now, before we break down the requirements and the straightforward pieces of your self-review, let’s take a moment to dig a little deeper. Much like you use the philosophy of the IPG to guide your application of the written rule, we will look at the properties of this self-review that will help you write with purpose.
Who are you writing this review for? In a somewhat ironic twist, this review that is written by you and all about you, isn’t really for you. Don’t get me wrong, there is great value for you in self-assessing and looking at your situation in depth, but for this specific self-review – you are not the intended audience. You are writing this review for your Regional Coordinator, so they can see if what you think of yourself lines up with what others have seen. You are writing this review for the benefit of the Verification Committee who will read over what you have written and make a decision on whether or not you are able to evaluate yourself. You are writing this review for the Judge who handles your PEI (Pre-Event Interview), so he or she can have a starting point in beginning your assessment. You are also writing this review for the members of your panel who will one day test you for advancement. Your goal should be to write this review to provide them with as much information as possible.
What you are writing is a metric by which you can be judged. I mean that with no negative connotation. Most of the people who will handle your application and exam will never have met you before, and this is your chance to tell them exactly who you are and how you perform as a Judge. Don’t go for the fences and make yourself out to be a hero from legend. Be honest. If you have a strength, talk about it. If you have a weakness, talk about it. The only sure way to condemn yourself is to gloss over things. Your goal should be to put down a complete and accurate representation of yourself.
Why you are writing this, beyond the fact the checklist says so, is to provide as much detail as possible about yourself to those who will be testing you. The advancement and testing process is heavily tailored for each candidate and what you put down in your self review provides a significant portion of the foundation for that. Your goal should be to provide details that will be useful in building a testing process that fits you.
Now that you know how to write your self-review, let’s take a look at what exactly you need to write. Looking back over to the candidacy prerequisites of the the L3 advancement process, found on the Judge Wiki, this entry covers our topic of study for today:
Must have written a general (i.e. non-event-specific) self-review in the last 12 months, covering ALL of the Qualities of Regional Judges listed above as Strengths or Areas for Improvement. If that self-review is more than 6 months old, your application must include a brief update indicating progress on the Qualities of Regional Judges.
My recommendation is for you to take that requirement one step further, list each Quality of a Regional Judge as a strength AND an area for improvement (Note: process now discourages that – more details here – Daniel Kitachewsky). You are a dynamic and growing member of the community and just because you have a quality locked up doesn’t mean you can’t still grow in it; likewise, just because something is challenging for you does not mean you have no good aspects to mention. Yes, it will take you twice as long to write, but it will also give those who handle your advancement much more material to work with and paint a much more lively portrait of yourself.
When you are writing out this review there is one word that you need to focus on: Elaborate. While the details are self-evident to you, remember who your target audience is, provide details, quotes, evidence, and examples so they can really get a sense of how that quality applies to you.
For example, saying “I am really good at mentoring” doesn’t provide any insight at all. It’s a blanket statement that may as well not even be written.
“I am really good at mentoring, I provide a lot of support to the community”. Getting warmer…though there is some additional information listed it still lacks a substance that provides backing for external evaluation.
“I am really good at mentoring. I provide a of support to the community by traveling to different stores and working with their L0 and L1 Judges. I have certified Judges at three different stores and created a Facebook group with them and others from the area so we could stay in touch. I post a weekly topic of discussion and guide them as they break it down.” There we go! Lots of details and information to validate the claim.
It’s easy to write strengths that way, you may say, but do I really have to list out all my mistakes when listing areas of improvement? Yes, and no. There is a critical additional step when listing out areas of improvement. It’s all well and good that you know you have an area you need to improve in, but it’s not going to happen over night – and it’s certainly not going to happen by itself. Take the time to list out what steps you are taking to improve. It doesn’t have to be something drastic, but by explaining you are aware of the problem and working to fix it shows you are both self-aware and self-actioning.
“I’m not a very good mentor” -Bzzzzzzzt – try again.
“I’m not a very good mentor, due to the fact that I like to focus on the event more than the staff” – Well, that’s better. It shows clear awareness, but once again even that awareness lacks substance.
“I’m not a very good mentor, due to the fact that I like to focus on the event more than the staff. I have recently joined in an ongoing email conversation with a new L1 and share my experiences with him and answer questions that he has when they come up. I am working a large event soon and have asked to be paired with another new L1 and aim to focus my energy on him throughout the day” – And there we have it. The issue is identified, the cause is pointed out, and progress is outlined.
I recommend starting out with the complete list of Qualities and writing out 4-6 simple sentences that describe you. After that, take the time to expand on each one as outlined above and before you know it you’ll have a complete, insightful, and actionable self-review.
That’s really all there is to it. Writing your self-review is not a boogeyman, nor is it a cryptic process. It is a collaboration between yourself and your future evaluators where you work together to better yourself as a judge.